I bet you wouldn’t necessarily think that sports and worship go together (and I don’t mean Sunday afternoon football, although there’s always that this time of year). I am thinking more, have you ever considered that your morning workout, your team sport, your personal commitment to fitness has a place in the life of faith?
Let me explain.
I didn’t grow up being an athlete. I can confidently tell you it is something I figured I had to grow into. As a kid, about the only thing I did outside was walk and ride my bike… but everyone did that. I played softball for a year or two in junior high, but I wasn’t very good. I never expected to find myself feeling like an athlete later in life. I’ll give you a brief summary before I explain what in the world this has to do with worship.
Long story short, I started running my senior year of high school, actually as a psychology class assignment (Apply BF Skinner’s behavior modification principles to something you want to stop, or start in your life). I found I loved it, and I ran all through college. With newfound faith, my runs often became long conversations talking with God, and listening. The entire time I was raising my two kids, I ran. Three miles turned into 5, then after we moved to Ohio, 5 turned into 7. It became my coping mechanism out of anger, frustration and loneliness. I wrestled with God many times on my runs there. Then, at the prompting and encouragement of a neighbor, 7 miles turned into 13 and I realized I like distance. When we moved to the Chicago suburbs, my goal turned into running marathons. Somewhere in the midst of all of that, it hit me:
I was an athlete.
That was huge for me, because most of my life the idea of “athlete” was only those who were on teams, or whose sport paid their salary. It was one area where I never felt I could measure up. I wasn’t made like them.
Yet here I was. Training. Weight lifting. Running marathons.
Most of the people who knew me never quite understood why I loved running so much. I get it, it’s not something everyone does unless they have to. But there was something deep within me that craved those runs. I ran with the sunrise, I ran in the cool evenings of summer, I ran when the snow first fell. I felt free. It was exhilarating.
You probably have your thing too, where you love it and no one else gets it, but it makes you come alive in ways you just can’t explain. Maybe its quilting like my mom, or singing or playing the guitar, or painting or taking amazing pictures like a couple from my old home group. Maybe its fixing cars or tinkering around the house and making things with your hands. Maybe its planning and coordinating, or cooking or playing hockey… well.. you get where I’m going, right?
Don’t get me wrong – my family supported me and were always there for my races, but because I felt like I was the only one who liked being outdoors, pushing myself and being active was a choice I had to make, for me. I have to admit, there were times that felt lonely.
I remember the day when the Lord clearly spoke to me that He had made me like this, given me this love of everything outdoors and challenging. That was groundbreaking for me. The thought that God in his wisdom made me with a love of being outside and liking physical challenges??? Woah. I can only smile now, knowing the husband he has paired me with for this next chapter of my life. He knew.
Have you actually ever stopped and looked at that thing that you are good at, the thing that you love love love – and considered that it is both a gift to you and a way you worship God when you do it?
Romans 12:1 is always the passage that I come back to when I need to remember that our entire lives are an offering to God. I love how it’s phrased in the Message:
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.”
That means everything. The things we LOVE to do, that are uniquely ours and we feel like we were made to do them, and also the day to day mundane things that just have to be done because – well – its life. All of them can be an offering to God.
Jesus talked about how God was looking for people who would worship in “spirit and in truth”, and that has a lot more to do with our everyday life than it does with what goes on Sunday mornings. Oh, I know that what goes on Sunday is and should be worship, but we can’t mistake going to church on the weekend for the only way we worship God. You might question “yeah but how can what I do be worship?”
My friends, when you have chosen to walk this way of Jesus, when you are trying to live this life in a way that reflects the reality of God and his grace for others, his love for people around you, and a life where the Spirit of God is evident, you need to know that it is in the very act of the offering that we worship.
And that is beautiful to God.
So whatever you do today or the next, offer it to God.
The fact you tried to get out of bed when things were hard today.
The fact you did your best on that presentation at work.
The fact you made your kids PB&J for lunch or did laundry or watched toddlers and taught them (or tried to teach them) how to share.. again.
The fact you sat at the hospital with a friend or loved one going through a hard time.
That nice thing you did for someone that no one will never know about.
The 5am workout to take care of the temple you’ve been given.
Those are all ways we worship, when we offer our lives to God.
So offer. Thank God for what you have, right where you are, and offer your life. It is a beautiful offering.
Blessings, my friends!